The voter turnout for the April Peninsula School District bond election was high for a special election at 48.86 percent, but the positive vote fell 1.1 percent short of the 60 percent supermajority required for passage of school bonds, according to the Pierce County Auditor’s office.
While KP voters accounted for only 21 percent of the total votes cast, analysis of district voting patterns revealed they had a large impact on the result. Only two of 10 KP precincts approved the measure by more than 58 percent. Overall, the approval rate on the Key was 49 percent.
Marcia Harris, president of the PSD board of directors, said on behalf of the board, “We were all terribly disappointed. We truly expected the bond to pass. We felt there was a lot of positive energy throughout the campaign. Now we will need to regroup and figure out the path forward.”
The turnout requirement for 40 percent of the total votes cast at the previous general election is usually difficult following a presidential election, according to the auditor’s office.
The supermajority and voter turnout requirements were applied to passage of school bonds and school levies in 1943 by an amendment to the Washington State Constitution. In 2008, the constitution was amended again to eliminate the requirement for local school levies that raise local operating funds, but a supermajority is still needed to pass school construction bonds.
“I am excited that almost 59 percent of the community saw the benefit (of the bond) for students, staff, parents and community,” said PSD Superintendent Rob Manahan. “I am sure there will be a capital measure in the future, but we need to define the parameters before presenting a new proposal to the community.”
Manahan said the board held a workshop May 16 to begin the planning process and that input from the community would be important. The first community meeting was May 17 and notices of future opportunities for citizens to participate will be posted on the school district website.
Board member Leslie Harbaugh attended the monthly Key Peninsula Business Association meeting May 18 and used her time at the microphone to encourage members to share their thoughts and encourage others to attend upcoming listening sessions, including one on the KP May 30.
“We want to hear from the KP,” she said. “We want to hear if you have other solutions.”